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That chicken that I told you I buy every couple of weeks or so goes a long way. We bought a beautiful, free-range, organic bird last Sunday. On Monday I took it out to pieces, let the legs and breasts sit and marinate in the ice-box, and from the rest I made a big pot of broth.

On Tuesday, we devoured the chicken meat from the broth in the form of my  Grain Medley & Chinese Flavored Chicken with Bok Choy. I used part of the broth to braise a cauliflower and the legs for our dinner on Wednesday. There was no need for starch, no rice, no pasta, no potatoes, no nuthin’. This simple, easy, inexpensive, light meal was all we needed and then some.

BRAISED CAULIFLOWER WITH ORGANIC CHICKEN LEGS

There were still two chicken boobies sitting on a shelf in our refrigerator last night, soaking themselves joyously in olive oil infused with garlic and thyme. Ah, chicken, more chicken, I sighed and heard Ina Garten’s voice in my head: JEFFREY LOVES CHICKEN, SO EVERY FRIDAY I MAKE HIM A ROASTED CHICKEN. BUT FRANKLY, I’M SLOWLY GETTING SICK OF IT. I am obviously paraphrasing Ina’s words, but chicken has always been big on her menu due to her husband’s love affair with poultry. I know it all, because I used to watch “Barefoot Contessa” on Food Network all the time. And then I got sick of it, too.

There’s no denying it, I also love keeping my man happy, hence I decided to make Jason’s favorite type of dinner–one he can build himself. There’s nothing that brings that boyish and exuberant joy to his face faster than a plate full of scrumptiousness he has assembled himself.

And so I sliced and sautéed onions, one red bell pepper, green sweet pepper and one more Anaheim pepper. The chicken breast roasted in the oven for about 25 minutes at 375°, after which I let it rest covered with a sheet of aluminum foil for another 10. When I finally cut into it, I heard a choir of fairies covering Wet Wet Wet’s hit song “Love Is All Around”, you know the theme song from “Four Weddings and a Funeral” with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell.

(There was a time in my long life when I would listen to that song OBSESSIVELY. I hope you’ll appreciate my honesty knowing I’m risking getting a restraining order from my boyfriend, who, I can just see, will cringe in pain and gag when reading this. I WAS FIFTEEN AND BELIEVED IN SANTA BACK THEN, TOO.)

The meat was so incredibly moist and silky, I wanted to put it all in my mouth and run. But then I had a drooling man looking over my shoulder also wanting a piece of it. We set the table with whatever we found suitable for CHICKEN FAJITAS in our pantry and refrigerator: sour cream, Green Chili Sauce, a bowl of brown rice, little green salad dressed with cilantro, heated tortillas and the guest of honor–ROASTED CHICKEN WITH AN ENTOURAGE OF SAUTÉED VEGETABLES.

CHICKEN FAJITAS

I wish I had taken a photo of Jason when he sat down to the table and began the construction. The only time a smile was amiss from his face was when his mouth opened to receive another ginormous bite of his fajita stuffed with goods. Then there was lots of excited bouncing on the chair and head swinging when the jaws were busy molding the food. In fact, if that were a twelve year old boy who just got his first Star Wars toy that would later turn into a significant collection, and not a thirty-six year old respected TV producer, you wouldn’t be able to tell.

At that point I no longer needed food. The mere sight of that free expression of bliss was more satiating to me than the actual meal. Don’t get me wrong, though. I got my share of that chicken last night as well. It was glorious!

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I put Jason through a flavor hurricane this week. The poor guy was my guinea pig from Monday through last night. Not that this is such an exotic job at this household, considering that my cooking style is pretty much a perpetual experiment. This week was different, however, as what I did mostly was… un-cooking and serving RAW.

If you stopped by the last few posts, you know I’m talking about GAZPACHO. What’s the big deal, you must be thinking then. The deal is that each one of my cold soups came out quite pungent and powerful. Still, I refused to mellow it down with cream or veg/chicken stock (as commonly practiced by other cooks out there). On the other hand, I welcomed that punch in my mouth, for it was not only refreshing, but also it lit a fluorescent bulb inside of my skull, and for the first time in my life I found myself in the center of the limelight. Alas no red carpet in sight.

The phenomena of the bright green glow enveloping my entire body was especially visible last night, when I finished my series of Spanish chilled soups with this MUCHO VERDE GAZPACHO. Today I kiss the ground I step on in gratitude for my apt thinking and taking a photo of all the ingredients that went into the blend. Otherwise, there would be no guarantees for me to retrace my own steps whilst being so blinded by my own halo.

Here you are, all the suspects rested supine on the bowl ready for the BIG WHIZZ:

– 2 Persian cucumbers (peeled)

– 1 Poblano Pepper, deseeded

– 1 Sweet Chili Pepper

– 1 Green Chili Pepper

– 1 Green Bell Pepper

– Heart of Celery Stalk

– 2 Green Onions

– 2 Lrg Avocados (ripe)

– Bunch of fresh Hawaiian Basil

– Bunch of fresh Cilantro

– 2-3 cloves of garlic

– Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on your liking)

– 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

– 1/2 Cup Cold Water, filtered preferably, not tap water

– Sea salt + white pepper + cayenne pepper to taste

– A few drizzles of Worcesterchire Sauce (optional)

– 1-2 tbsp of Mascarpone or cream (optional)

The last 2 component are completely optional, and avoid them especially if you want to keep your Gazpacho vegan. That’s how mine was, and also that’s why my Jason’s eyes came out from their orbits upon the first sip of the soup after it had chilled in the ice-box for half a day. Let me explain this. Jason doesn’t eat oranges, nor green apples, not to mention grapefruits unless they are certified to be infused with honey by the bees themselves. His baby tongue is too delicate for any level of tartness. Whereas I myself squeeze the juice of an entire lemon into a small glass of water, after which I gulp it down, come up for air, smack lick my lips and ask for more. Therefore, you be the judge of how much lemon juice versus olive oil versus water you choose to add into your soup. Think of the consistency and flavor. If using more water, remember to adjust the saltiness and heat of your amalgam.

It’s most likely clear that all the vegetables should be cleaned, peeled and deseeded when needed, then chopped into smaller pieces and blended together in a food processor or a blender. For that extra smooth and creamy consistency I like to press the entire batch through a fine sieve before storing in a glass, air-tight container for the chilling part of the process.

I enjoyed a glass of my Elixir of Youth with dinner last night, and then again with my wrap I devoured for lunch today. Just think about the boost of live enzymes and vitamins that enter your body in liquified form, thus making its magic that much faster. I feel illuminated. Even now, two hours after my last meal I’m still burping lightning bugs…

Bon Appetit!

The day has come. April 15th arrived and Uncle Sam wants to hear from you. For once I have taken care of my taxes way before the due date, which, as you know, ended up in my utmost indignation and relentless hiccups despite my wildest expectations. Nonetheless, since I no longer need to worry about 2009, I can focus on a bowl of whole-wheat comfort bathed in a juicy sauce of my choice.

Every week Jason and I do groceries on Saturday, and we buy either one whole chicken that will last for several dinners/lunches, or just a chicken breast plus a fresh fish fillet. Those take care of two to three dinners a week. The remaining days we follow a mostly vegetarian diet.

Usually around Thursday I glance into the depths of our refrigerator and panic as the only thing looking back at me is one sad veg (like zucchini or broccoli), a half-empty jar of capers, leftover mascarpone cheese and rapidly wilting dill. For a moment I’m startled wondering what to make for dinner. But then I run through the pantry and discover at least two variations of dry pasta kicking back in the drawer, a can or two of water-packed tuna (no salt added), maybe a jar of tomato puree, and to make the deal even sweater – there’s a bag of artichoke hearts in the freezer. In a basket there’s always a few onions and garlic cloves only waiting to get in the game.

It takes about 20-30 minutes to make a hearty meal out of the above-mentioned. During the time my pasta water boils in a large pot, I chop and sauté an onion, add drained and crumbled tuna meat, then capers, frozen artichokes, and cover it with my liquid tomatoes. I season the sauce with salt and pepper, maybe a touch of paprika, and let it all simmer together until the pasta is aldente.

Apropos pasta, for a chunky sauce like this, choose the kind of noodles that have ridges and holes allowing the sauce to wrap itself around and/or inside each peace and become one. It’s very sexy.

(Hearing the words, Cosmo lifts his head from the nap, sniffs around, and teased by the aroma coming from the kitchen he barks out loud: OOO, DID SOMEONE SAY SEXY?)

Turn off the heat under the sauce. Scoop about a tablespoon or more of mascarpone cheese and incorporate it into the sauce. Let it melt, baby, let it all nicely melt in. Add freshly chopped dill or parsley, and slowly toss in your cooked pasta along with about a ladleful of pasta water. Mix it all together and voila!

I can’t even describe how phenomenal that meal is. My advise to you is to make only as much pasta as you’d like to eat at one sitting. If you make too much, you’ll be huffing and puffing but you won’t be able to stop before the dish has disappeared from the surface of the Earth.

Here’s another variation of my pasta mid-week fix. Get yourself an Anaheim pepper (green bell pepper will do, too), chop it and toss into a blender with 2 cloves of garlic, chopped onion, a bunch of cilantro, good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, a touch of chili powder, and drizzle in some olive oil. Mix it all into a green sauce.

Heat your skillet, add olive oil and sauté chopped zucchini (2-4, depending on their size), while your pasta is boiling away in a separate pan. Season it with salt and pepper and maybe a touch of smoked paprika (why not). When zucchini is semi-soft, add the green sauce and let it simmer together until the noodles are aldente. Toss the pasta into the skillet, stir, push everybody around, and serve!

Feel free to begin this dish with diced pancetta, letting its rendered fat to be the base for the zucchini. You can also add grated Gruyere cheese at the very end, or Parmesan if you prefer. Melted cheese will help bind your pasta with the sauce, turning the dish into a close-knit family.

Even when you think there’s nothing to eat in your house, think again. Check your cabinets; check the produce drawer in your refrigerator. From my experience, there’s always a lonely fellow left sending out RESCUE ME messages either by a pigeon, or in a bottle, or even coded in Morse, just dying to be devoured with pleasure. It’s just a matter of sautéing or fixing up otherwise.

I’m outta here. Da Vinci is exepcting.

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